By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas Public Services Union is pursuing “legal action” against the Gaming Board for terminating some 30 people without consultation with the union.
In an interview with The Tribune, BPSU President Kingsley Ferguson said the union has hired a lawyer and is pursuing legal action against the government for refusing to reinstate the terminated employees.
Mr Ferguson also reiterated the Minnis administration has until the end of the week to rehire the employees or further “action” will be taken.
According to the BPSU, 17 employees, ranging from administrative assistants to revenue collectors and managers, were terminated last week. Last month about 18 workers were sent home from the Gaming Board.
Mr Ferguson said the BPSU has made attempts to communicate with Gaming Board and labour officials, but has not received any sort of response or clarification.
“We have had a conversation with the Gaming Board regarding the industrial agreement but we have had no conversation as it relates to the reinstatement of those persons that were terminated,” Mr Ferguson said.
“So we have hired someone and we are pursuing our legal recourse and we will allow that to take its course. We have someone dealing with it, we have legal counsel and I will not disclose anything else. We are still putting some things together, just in case the government doesn’t come to the table. If we reach that point, we will take some action and we will be fair.”
Last week, National Congress of Trade Unions of the Bahamas (NCTUB) President Bernard Evans called the terminations “shameful” and “embarrassing.”
He said: “While we have allowed this to go on for so long, this is enough. You asked about timeline, the BPSU is mandated by law to allow the process, I believe it takes about seven days to go through the process, but certainly after that seven days all gloves are off.”
Mr Evans added that labour groups were trying to “restrain” themselves, but said the time is coming for them to “protest and protest loudly.”
In response to the terminations, Gaming Board Chairman Kenyatta Gibson said last week some 30 employees were recently fired after a manpower assessment of the overstaffed agency.
Mr Gibson said over the past four years, staff at the Gaming Board increased by 40 per cent. He also said the entity is focused on engaging persons with a certain skill set who can properly regulate the gaming sector.
He said all those who were fired were paid “equitable and fair separation packages, with each and every one of their entitlements having been dealt with in a very generous fashion.”
Mr Gibson said if any errors in separation payments were made, they would be corrected once brought to officials’ attention.